[Ads-l] patient zero

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 7 18:11:10 UTC 2014

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Originally (at least in news culture) the first guy known to have (and
> spread) AIDS.
> But now (Yahoo! News):
> "Brooklyn Reiff is patient zero in a massive Internet meme that millions of
> people have read or heard about."
> Apparently "the source" (of an Internet meme).

In the excerpt below the author primed the reader by using the term
"viral-ness" in describing the meme. The term "Patient Zero" was a
form of wordplay or a metaphorical extension based on "virus", I
think. (Apologies to all who think this is too obvious to state.) It
may be hard for this usage to gain traction because the connotations
are discordant.

Title: A Conversation with the Teen Who Took That Photo of 'Alex from Target'
Author: Alyssa Bereznak (Tech Columnist)
Date: November 7, 2014



[Begin excerpt]
By Monday morning this week, an otherwise normal kid who worked at
Target discovered that he had become an unwitting Internet meme,
amassing thousands of new Twitter followers and sparking coverage from
every major media outlet (including Yahoo Tech). By Tuesday, a
previously unknown company tried to piggyback on his viral-ness. As
the week wore on, a slew of think pieces came out about fandom and
modern fame.

The source of all this madness: a 15-year-old high-schooler named
Brooklyn Reiff.

Reiff is a junior at Prosper High School in Prosper, Texas. She's on
the softball team there, where she plays left field, sometimes center.
When asked if she's interested in any particular subject at school,
she replied "not really."

In other words, she's a typical teen who just happens to be Patient
Zero in a massive Internet meme that millions of people have read or
heard about. I caught up with her in the car, as her mother was
driving her to an orthodontist's appointment.
[End excerpt]

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list